Healthcare IT Blog

“D’ stands for “Documentation’....Darn it!!

Published on 02/08/2013 by Ashini Surati
Category: Healthcare IT

Have you ever had to write something and then get writer’s block?  Until you have the time to actually write something, your mind is going 100 miles an hour, but the minute you get in front of a screen to start typing, your mind goes blank?  Or you get distracted?  Happens to me quite a bit! So, anyway, why was I writing this blog?  Oh, that’s right, the importance of documentation…..

Documentation is a necessity; documentation is a discipline; creating documentation should be part of any project or task.  How simple is that? There would be no history in the world without documentation.  There would be no patient history without documentation.  There is no cycle that would be complete without being documented.   Nobody questions the importance or need to document.

So, why does the IT department struggle with this so much?  Failure to document meeting minutes is equivalent to a meeting not occurring. Failure to document critical decisions made leads to many arguments downstream and rework.  Failure to document procedures and processes results in not having any.  Failure to document approvals and change management means we have inadequate controls that could potentially lead to security lapses in the environment.  Documentation is not just about passing an annual audit or making sure that you can still function if your star player wins the Powerball.

So what does your IT department document?  Strategic plans, budgets, statement of work(s), project plans, test plans, acceptance documentation,  risk assessments, important meeting minutes, procedures, security policies, disaster recovery plans, IT networks diagrams, software programming standards,  operations manual, user manuals and so on and so forth.  Hopefully, all of the above and then some.

What are the abc’s of documentation?  Here are a few.  Coming up with a simple structure or template for each type of document will make it easier to produce consistent documentation that contains all of the information required.  Creating a schedule to review and update your documentation periodically is also important.  Maintaining a centralized repository of documents that are accessible to the team will reinforce that documents are to be used and shared.  You can start at “A” or you can start at “Z”.  It doesn’t matter where you begin.  What matters is that you begin.

So what’s my point? Make documentation part of your processes.  If you did not write it or draw it and share it – no one knows about it, it does not exist and rules don’t apply. At Park Place, we consider documentation a core component of what we do.  Documenting what we do in our environment or yours is as critical to us as solving the problem, making the change, delivering the solution, or answering the question.

Ashini Surati is the Security and Compliance Manager at Park Place International. She has been working in the healthcare security and compliance realm for the past decade. Her passion is to ensure customers understand and comply with regulations and maintain a secure, compliant environment.